A Simple Guide to Finding Gifts for a Minimalist
By the team at W&P, makers of ethical kitchenware
Picking out gifts for a minimalist can feel like a Herculean task. What are you supposed to get someone who wants to pare back their possessions and live a more simplistic lifestyle? The last thing you want is to spend your hard-earned money on a useless gift that will inevitably end up in a Goodwill donation bin. (Think about it: you’d essentially be gifting them a chore.)
Luckily, shopping for someone trying to get off the consumerism treadmill isn’t as difficult as it sounds. The key is to figure out the person’s particular flavor of minimalism. For instance, if your friend is more inclined towards eco-conscious minimalism, gifts that help them reduce their plastic consumption — like a recyclable tote bag or a reusable Porter mug — are bound to be a huge hit.
If you’re unsure what type of minimalist your gift recipient is or how to shop for them, you’ve come to the right place! Here, we break down the various types of minimalism and share tips on how to pick out a gift that keeps their heart full and their home clutter-free.
Part of a series on Minimalism:
- What Is Minimalism? A Beginner’s Guide
- The Benefits of Minimalism: Guide Examining Pros & Cons
- Minimalism and Sustainability: Their Many Shared Benefits
- Environmental Benefits of Minimalism
- What Is Eco-Minimalist Architecture?
- Minimalist Eating: How to Reduce Food Waste
At its most basic definition, minimalism is the simplification of life. Our everyday lives are often filled with clutter and chaos, leading to unnecessary stress and frustration. From a young age, we’re bombarded with advertisements encouraging us to acquire more “stuff.” But a mountain of research shows that the more materialistic possessions we buy, the unhappier we tend to become.
Minimalism provides an anecdote to our culturally driven need to acquire more things. The idea is that, by putting less time and energy into material possessions, we can focus more on what truly matters: being present with our friends and loved ones. Put another way, it’s about being intentional with how you live your life.
Of course, minimalism means different things to different people. That’s why there are various types of minimalists, each with their own unique set of principles.
- Aesthetic minimalists focus primarily on visual appeal. They’re all about creating simple, clean and stress-free designs in their art, home design and fashion.
- Eco-minded minimalists seek to create a lifestyle that is both simplified and kind to the planet. These minimalists enjoy finding creative ways to reuse or upcycle existing products and prefer to buy from companies with sustainable values.
- Frugal minimalists are strongly motivated by the money-saving aspects of minimalism. Gifts that reduce waste while also saving the recipient some dough in the long run (think a high-quality safety razor or a reusable glass water bottle) tend to be a safe bet for this type of minimalist.
- Essential minimalists are all about paring down their belongings to the bare essentials. In contrast to the frugal minimalist, essential minimalists will often shell out the big bucks for top-quality items that are meant to last a lifetime.
- Mindful minimalists are typically in it for the joy and spiritual enlightenment that comes from letting go of their possessions. They’re particularly mindful about what they bring into their lives and how it makes them feel — and they probably practice meditation daily.
Choosing the Perfect Gift for a Minimalist: 5 Helpful Tips
Now that you have a better idea of minimalism, here are a few helpful tips for picking out a gift that the minimalist in your life is sure to love.
- Understand Their Why – Before you rush out and buy your minimalist friend a gift, take the time to learn about what got them interested in the movement in the first place. Did they embrace a simplistic lifestyle out of concern for the environment? Was it out of necessity (e.g., they ran into financial trouble)? Or did they become inspired after watching an episode of Tidying Up With Marie Kondo? Figuring out their underlying motivations will help you determine what kind of minimalist they are, which, in turn, will help you choose a thoughtful gift they’re sure to love.
- Consider an Intangible Gift – When in doubt, you can’t go wrong with a non-material gift. Charitable donations, digital subscriptions and unique experiences (goat yoga, anyone?) all make great gifts for minimalists because, unlike physical gifts, they don’t take up space in the recipient’s home. And they don’t have to be expensive either! For instance, you could plan a special day for your giftee or offer your services (free babysitting for a night, cleaning, cooking, etc.).
- Make It Meaningful – Minimalists aren’t opposed to receiving physical gifts — they just want those gifts to have purpose and meaning. To that end, consider giving a physical gift that is tailored specifically to the receiver and rooted in practicality. For instance, a friend who has a love of coffee may be thrilled to receive personalized mugs they can reuse again and again, along with a gift card to their favorite coffee shop. If they enjoy gardening, a pair of pruning garden shears or a homemade citronella-based insect repellent (to keep mosquitos at bay) is sure to delight.
- Aim for Quality – If you decide to buy the minimalist in your life a physical gift rather than a consumable or experience gift, make sure it’s high quality. For many minimalists, the ultimate goal is to bring fewer items into their homes, and they can’t accomplish that when the gifts they receive break down within a year. To ensure your gift will stand the test of time, read reviews carefully and do plenty of research on the product in advance.
- Be Wary of Coupons – We love a good coupon as much as the next person, but you need to be careful with them while shopping for a minimalist. Coupons often lead to irrational buying decisions, encouraging us to pull the trigger on purchases we haven’t thought out well. In such scenarios, it’s helpful to ask yourself: Would you be willing to buy the item at full price, knowing the recipient would get good use out of it? If the answer is no, you may want to rethink your gift.
When in Doubt, Just Ask!
If you’re still stuck for gift ideas for the minimalist in your life, why not ask them directly? Many minimalists are more than happy to share their wish list because they realize that people will buy them a gift regardless of their wishes. And if you think asking them directly spoils the fun, you can always ask a close friend or family member for ideas!
From the Authors, W&P
“We’re working to build a happy, healthy, sustainable world, beginning in every kitchen. We design products that improve the way we eat and drink everyday. From morning coffee to lunch in the park to evening cocktails, our essentials solve problems for real life, elevate the everyday, and make it simple to do good.”